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What motivates your employees?

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What motivates your employees?

Sometimes, a bell rings in your mind. It did in mine the other day. I was sitting with the president of a successful company in his office just prior to our leadership team training session. We were talking about sales, profits and people. I asked about some specific sales associates, and what he responded with made me freeze and really think for a minute.

He said: “...and Jeff, he is now in bonus money and really motivated.” In bonus money. Sometimes in my travels I hear certain words and phrases from owners/leaders that really make me think about this question: “What really motivates an employee from their perspective?” Is it money? Recognition? Advancement? Environment? It’s all those.

In this article, I want to really focus the lens on the difference between an owner’s motivation (sales, profits, growth, etc.) and the real motivation of the employee.

You can have all the programs and potential in your dealership you want, but if the bell doesn’t ring in your employee’s mind that says, “I will give it all I’ve got today — because it’s worth it to me,” then there can be a serious gap between your motivation and your associates’. It’s the law of self-interest at work.

Let’s focus on three key employee motivators that can bridge the gap of putting and keeping everyone’s motivation on the same page:

1. Give your employees a chance to win something where they had to compete for it within the business. That means plaques, trophies, certificates, nice gadgets, etc. — those tangible rewards that state they were for a specific time period the best at something. I have seen incredible efforts to sell more tires and service when a trophy is on the line — and the bragging rights that go with it.

2. Give your employees a chance to travel somewhere they have not (and potentially with their spouse). I travel a lot. You may, too. But many employees in tire dealerships may not have — they haven’t been to many places outside of home or experienced first class hotels in other places. These experiences are indelible for a lifetime (and instill motivation for the next trip!).

3. Give your employees a chance to make extra money. That means money above their salary as bonuses, commissions, profit-sharing, etc. The trick is the perception of who gains. The boss might see the employee has a fair chance to earn some extra money — so they should work for it. The employee (without evidence of the payout) may view the bar as too high and that the incentive program is a disguise for extra work. Then they feel like they’re in conflict with the company, in some cases.

Consider these ideas for money awards:

•  For bonuses and profit sharing, two rules: One: Don’t make the levels of profit too high to hit to get any money. Two: Don’t make the payoff too far out, i.e. (only) at the end of the full year. People can’t see that far past their bills. Make the payout monthly or quarterly, and you will see the dividend relative to production — which is what you want.

•  Stagger your profit levels for attainable payoff: Maybe have a gold, silver, bronze approach where the bronze level of your profit-sharing is very attainable — even if you only give a small percentage. I contend, believe it or not, the percentage is not the key. I have a tire/service client who has a great bonus program for his service techs. I have talked to some of these techs out in the service bay. One said this; “Yep, when my wife and I first saw that extra money on my check on Friday — and treated ourselves to dinner that night — I felt how real the bonus program was (for extra oil changes, alignments and needed service work) and haven’t missed it since.” The whole motivation key is that the employee feels the real motivation to do the work!

•  Publicize who wins: Have an award day and company newsletter that trumpets and shows the bonus winners accepting their rewards. It’s contagious — which is what you want! Do you think Sam out at the sales counter doesn’t want some extra money in his check when he sees Donna winning every week? Of course he does — and you’ll get more sales for it.

SalesMinded dealer owners and managers who get into the minds of their employees on the motivation question will see the employees dig into the work it takes to earn the rewards. It’s crucial not to confuse your motivation with theirs.    ■

Doug Trenary, president of Doug Trenary’s Fast-Trac, Inc., is an award-winning author, speaker, and teacher who has helped companies of multiple sizes, including independent tire dealerships, increase sales and productivity since 1985. His book, The SalesMind, focuses on how to establish strong positions with yourself, your buyers and your time. For more information on his work, email him at or call (404) 262-3339.

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